Archive for March, 2010

Caprica Quiz

March 31, 2010

Following on from the runaway international success of the Battlestar Galactica quizzes, which commanded levels of adoration and intense devotion akin to that enjoyed by the Pope before all of this distasteful molesting scandal business (swings and roundabouts, eh Ratty?), here is a quiz about the BSG spin-off Caprica, which I have unprecedentedly been watching, with my eyes and everything. That was a long sentence. Still, full stops should be used sparingly. It’s like what my Uncle Ricky always says about women: use them quickly, only when you have to and with your eyes closed.

Ok spin-off fans. Here are the brainteasers:

1)      Joseph Adama, father of William, is a native of which planet:

(a)    The Moon

(b)   Transsexual Transylvania

(c)    Gaedi Prime

(d)   Tauron

(2) The youth of Caprica get their kicks by plugging into a virtual world. What is the name of this virtual world:

(a)    Rotherham

(b)    Doncaster

(c)    Barnsley

(d)    Cornball the Clown’s Crazy World of Sponge

(3) How does the original, human version of Zoe Graystone perish?

(a)    Bad mangos

(b)   Tripping over some hindering snodgrass

(c)    Going for a swim in Michael Barrymore’s pool

(d)   On the bog, a la Elvis

(4) Sister Clarice Willow belongs to a terrorist group, who worship the one true…

(a)    Beat

(b)   Beak

(c)    Beady Eye

(d)   Beast

(5) The comeliness of Alessandra Torresani, who plays Zoe Graystone, can best be summed up with which of the following words:

(a)    Phweeeeep

(b)   Phwoarrrrrgh

(c)    Phrurgle

(d)   Phoing!

Advertisements

Boyz ‘n’ the Hood

March 30, 2010

The portal wherewith I gazed 'pon my adult destiny

Lil' Le Baptiste

Following on from the tantalising glimpse into one of the formative cinematic experiences that helped to make Banjo Fett the intergalactic bounty-hunting bluegrass minstrel he is today , I have decided to share the details of an early chapter from my cinematic autobiography. Indeed, when I last encountered  the analogue version of Mr Fett, dressed like Bo Peep and strangling little frogs down by the lagoon, he expressed the heartfelt wish that his entry would inaugurate a long series of ‘formative film experience’ entries from all hands on the AR.

I was 9 or 10 when first I lay my virginal peepers upon the sex ‘n’ gun-tastic romp that is Boyz ‘n’ the Hood. The film’s rating was 15 or 18, but I would not be deterred. I was determined to see what adulthood held in store for me, albeit a stylised version of adulthood specific to a gang-banging LA milieu, rather than the Brideshead Revisited-esque world of plums, teddy-bears and posh sexual ambiguity that my adult life has since proven to be. Anyway, here’s a poem about what happened when I watched Boyz ‘n’ the Hood:

When I grow up I’m going to get my gat

And gun your ass to the ground.

Then I’m going to sink up to my ears

In booty.

Ass booty gat. Bum bottom gun

Gat booty ass. Gun bottom bum.

Yo’ in the big leagues now lil’ Le Baptiste

With yo’ scabrous white knees and

Just William cheeks.

Scrumping in the orchards

Ain’t like pumping in the projects:

It don’t matter how many rosy Braeburns

You stole from Reverend Beckley’s parish garden

An’ it don’t matter if you stole

Wee-wee Jenkinson’s tuck

An’ made him weep onto his already

Soggy school shorts.

Yo’ in the big league now,

So shoot Fat F-Pups in his weak-ass jugs

And flip those hoes a fiddy.

Bitchslap that fag,

Fag-slap that bitch,

Gat that snitch, titch,

Get dead or die rich,

Or was it the other way round?

Yo’ in the big leagues now lil’ Le Baptiste

So say it after me:

Ass booty gat. Gun bottom bum.

I don’t like this game any more. I want me mum.

The Cat From Outer Space

March 29, 2010

I, Banjo Fett, saw this film once. In fact, it was the first film I ever saw at the cinema. It undoubtedly shaped my psyche in a number of ways. Here, I explore some of those in the form of a poem.

The Cat From Outer Space

Pithy little cat,

From beyond the stars,

Your saucer runs not on milk,

Or catnip,

As one might expect of a space-cat,

But on gold.

You cheeky little sod.

“Get me some gold,”

Your magic space-collar barks,

“So I can get home.

For I am a fluffy little tyke,

With a penchant for the murder of small beasts.

And space travel.”

Come here Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7,

And let me tickle your chin.

And we’ll talk turkey,

About how to steal enough gold,

To get you out of my life,

For good.

Human Highway

March 23, 2010

Recently, while reading an account of the vampirically long life of the wizened sci-fi peanut Dean Stockwell, I made a curious discovery. I already knew of course that Stockwell had played Kim in Kim, Al in Quantum Leap, John Cavil in Battlestar Galactica, the Suave Fuck in Blue Velvet and Joseph in a school nativity play circa 24 AD. What I did not know was that Stockwell had also written and starred in a film with Neil Young, a genial Lurch-esque minstrel with folk-rock sympathies and a kazoo for a voice. Unfortunately the film, entitled Human Highway, is only available on VHS: the most loathsome of all audio-visual formats. Once again I must descend into the warped recesses of my cerebrum in a bid to imagine what the film might be about. The following might be, but probably isn’t, a scene from early in the film.

Neil Young: [screechy voice] ‘Hey Dean Stockwell buddy. I wrote a song. Would you like to hear it?’

Dean Stockwell: ‘Hey Neil Young. Is it an educational song?

Neil Young: ‘Yes Dean Stockwell, it is’

Dean Stockwell: ‘Stick it in your dirty fucking ears then Neil Young. I’d rather die.’

[Neil Young tries to hide the fact he is crying]

Dean Stockwell: ‘Hey hey Neil Young. I was only funning with you buddy’

Neil Young: ‘Really?’

Dean Stockwell: ‘’Course I was buddy. I’d love to hear it’

Neil Young: ‘Ok. Here I go. [strums his guitar and proceeds to sing]

Verse 1

When I’m dangling down the 103

On a steel-train to Californee

I likes to sing a workingman’s song

I likes to eat a bison’s tongue

Chorus

Fiddle-de-ree, riddle-ee-squee,

I’m sitting on a workingman’s knee

Fiddle-de-roo, riddle-de-roonuch

I’m sitting on a workingman’s eunuch

Verse 2

When I’m sitting with my ol’ lover

And feeding spices to Danny Glover

I likes to know that she is near

I likes to put my finger in her ear

Chorus

Fiddle-de-fuddle, riddle-de-rump

A workingman will break his pump

Break his pump and bum a jerk

But you can’t keep a workingman from his work.

Neil Young (in continuation): What do you think then Neil Young, sorry I mean Dean Stockwell?

Dean Stockwell: ‘It stinks. I hate it.’

A review of a film

March 21, 2010

It’s me, Mr B Fett. I saw a film. This is what I have to say about it.

Some friends of mine drove us there. There were four of us: String-o, Luggy, Zandwich and me. We were in a car, initially. Then, later, we were in the foyer of the cinema. Actually, before that we were in the car park. This detail is probably important for continuity, otherwise, dear reader, you might assume we ram-raided the cinema, or that we were at a drive-in. But the cinema foyer was exciting. There were lots of people there, milling about and paying for drinks and coloured ice slushes and popped corn. Man, I was so excited. Except the film was full so we had to wait until they showed it again.

Luckily it was on again in an hour.

I bought a drink. It was medium but it was stretching the definition of medium as it was more like massive. We had some food in our bags, a trick we learned from our elders. But we still bought some drinks because we didn’t want to look like we’d strayed too far from the herd.

Eventually we went into the screen-room (number eight) with all the other people, and seated ourselves appropriately. The gradient of the seating and stairs seemed excessively steep, almost like a cliff, but with rows of seating. Luggy immediately suffered from a sudden wave of Vertigo (the capital ‘V’ is a film reference not a typo) as a result of the steep gradient. I didn’t like the idea of sitting on the edge of a cliff to watch a film but I held onto my seat and leaned as far back as possible so I wouldn’t fall over the seats in front of me and tumble onto the families below.

We chatted about our plans for toilet breaks and how we would find our seats after going to the toilet. In the end we agreed to do a Mexican wave when the toilet-visiter returned. Then the adverts started.

I can’t really remember the adverts, but there was one about Doctor Who. Strange really because Doctor Who’s by the BBC so that means my TV license money went towards a cinema advert. After a while a message on the screen told us to put our 3D glasses on. Then they had some more adverts but in 3D and I can’t remember what they were for but there was quite a lot of them and one of them wasn’t in 3D. Zandwich felt a bit sick as well. I thought it might have been the steep gradient but it might not have been.

The film started. It had the usual BBFC classification screen first and it had been classified a PG. The woman behind me got angry about that because her husband had told her it was a 15. I didn’t hear his excuse though.

The film was in 3D as well. It wasn’t really like proper 3D, like how life is in 3D. It was a bit like a pop-up book except not as good, like as if the pop-up bits weren’t popping up properly. And now and then one of the characters would throw something at the screen and you might try and duck and then you’d remember it’s a film in a cinema and the object’s not real so you don’t need to duck.

For some reason the film didn’t stick to what happened in the book. It made some other stuff up and just included a few things that happened in the book. It’s not a pop-up book so maybe that’s why, I don’t know.

In summary I give it six out of ten.

Tron: Legacy

March 21, 2010

An interest in all things technological and cutting-edge means I was pretty excited when news of Tron: Legacy hove into view, and yet more so when, by by sheer chance (okay, by sheer breaking-and-entering) I managed to get my grubby paws on a copy of this sequel to that cult classic in which Jeff Bridges isn’t The Dude and doesn’t have his rug stolen. Here isn’t my review.

The film centres on Sam Flynn. He talks to machines. The townsfolk say he’s mad. Flynn is looking for his father, who vanished from the face of the physical universe and became absorbed within the code of a C64. This was shit-hot stuff in 1982, but as the years went by, Flynn’s disappearance was spoken of with acute embarrassment and consequently concealed from his son. ‘Daddy?’ says the young Flynn Junior to an ATM machine. He sleeps clutching a tear-stained calculator. The film lurches forward to Sam aged 27. He is employed in his local branch of Currys. With no father-figure and a misspent youth playing video games his education has been neglected, evidenced by the fact that he does not know nor care a whit about the missing apostrophe in Currys. All he cares about is finding his father and beating customers into submission with his impenetrable techno-babble. Flynn Senior used to wander round the self-same store, fingering the keyboards. Sam is looking for clues.

When the store is closed, Sam speaks to the computers. He whispers to the store’s mainframe. ‘Pops?’ he conjures. The lights on the mainframe wink on and off coldly. Then his eye lights upon a digital laser opposite the mainframe. Switching the laser on, Sam is transported into the world of the Master Control Program, the world into which his father had vanished.

Things have changed. The visual effects are stunning throughout, except for the crappy 8-bit graphics that are Flynn Senior’s legacy. Sam climbs aboard an 8-bit light-cycle. Its wheels are pixellated blocks and damn near square. The light-cycle makes all the stately progress of an elephant in concrete boots to the accompaniment of lively, parping music, generated by the C64 SID chip. It’s enough to make you weep into your popcorn. Other inhabitants of this technological world mock and scoff as they flash by on their upgraded velocipedes. This is a dangerous world, for this is the world of the Internet Age. Armed only with obsolete technology, and with the help of his father, Sam must defeat the nefarious and unruly Programs he encounters. The MCP once again demands conformity to its plans. Loyalty to the MCP is expressed by clicking the ‘Like’ button and sending invites to up to 20 friends. An army of depressingly stupid Programs quickly amasses. A rogue cow breaks free of FarmVille, nearly trampling our hero to a bloody, pixellated pulp. Sam finally saves the day with an ‘I bet I can find 1000,0000,0000 people who hate the MCP’ Facebook group. Unfortunately, Sam does not fare so well with the group ‘Unless 50,000,000,000 ppl join i am changing my name to Farty Guffpants’.

Nice work, Farty. Nice work.

In all, this wasn’t the futuristic whirlwind I expected, and I was temporarily stricken blind by the garish, 80s graphics, but at the heart of the film is a Message. The kind of Message that might be written on actual paper rather than digitized on a screen. The Message is this: let us not rush to embrace technology indiscriminately. The closest you got to Facebook in 1982 was to shut your face in a book, which was an altogether less painful experience. Let us tread the road to the future carefully, saith this film. Or so it would have done.

Every Day The Same Dream: A Review

March 16, 2010

This is a serious review. Stop laughing at the back there. This is serious, damn you all.

Here is my review of Every Day The Same Dream, a game available on the site Molleindustria. I have played it. Its content is arguably agoraphobic, and not in the Wotsit-munching, pasty, bean-bag-dwellling sense applied to gamers by The Daily Mail. It’s so understatedly brilliant that I make no apology for the stony-browed words that follow, though I must apologise to readers and colleagues of the AR for sullying the pages of this hallowed forum with material that perhaps more properly belongs elsewhere.

This is no run-of-the-mill game, and yet everything about its ostensible narrative is run-of-the-mill. You are an unnamed employee for an unnamed office in an unnamed town. Your world is monochrome but for isolated splashes of colour. As the title suggests, the game runs through the same routine: you start in your bedroom. A red light blinks on the alarm clock by the bed. You turn it off. You walk to the wardrobe, in which hangs a jacket, shirt, and trousers. You dress for work. You go to the kitchen. A TV flickers with primary colours. By the stove is your wife, who greets you with ‘C’mon honey, you’re going to be late’. Moving out of the kitchen and into the hallway, you press a button to call the elevator. The button lights up. The elevator arrives. Inside the elevator is an elderly woman bent over a walking cane. She tells you: ‘Five more things and you will be a new man’. Incidentally, if you walk up to her, the hand in which she holds the cane is level with your crotch, but that’s neither here nor there.

From the elevator you find yourself outside the apartment building. A blue parking sign flickers on the right side of the building. Continuing to walk to the right, you are in a queue of slow-moving traffic. You reach work and are greeted by your boss. You are late. You are ordered to your cubicle. On the wall is a graph of the Company’s profits. The red line steadily declines over the course of the game. You pass rows of cubicles, filled with co-workers like yourself. Exactly like yourself. The camera pans out. More cubicles. It pans out. More cubicles. You locate your cubicle and sit to your work – what kind of work? We are not told. The picture fades and you are back in your bedroom with the red light blinking on the alarm clock.

Now, you could play this narrative through endlessly, until the death of time itself, until the mountains fall into the sea and X-Factor stops being popular. On this level, the game points to the mundane nature of human existence. It’s like Groundhog Day, only without Bill Murray (lose 1 point for failing to include Bill Murray). The title suggests that the day which you live over and over is a dream, but what is it a dream about? Is it pointing to the fact that our fantasies only entrap us deeper within our everyday lives? But, harken to the old lady in the elevator. She may have isosceles triangles for legs, but she is the key to the game.

‘Five more things and you will be a new man’.

There are five actions you can perform that will break the repetitive monotony of your routine, some more so than others, for some only return you to the same loop. The colours within the game (the light on the alarm clock, the Parking sign, the Company profits) seemingly offer hope that is no hope at all. The alarm clock alerts you to the fact that you are late. The Parking sign indicates you are one of many commuters whose cars herd up the road like cattle. The declining Company profits reflect the depressing decline of your vitality within this death-in-life.

**Spoiler Alert**

Yet, as the Elevator Lady says, there are five things that will alter your perception of this monochrome existence, breaking the loop of the game. Other splashes of colour offer some degree of hope. The sole autumnal leaf that quivers on the branch of the tree: it is fragile, it is at the end of its life, and yet it also quivers with the last tremblings of life as it falls into your hand. The Fire Exit sign in the last cubicle frame glows green, again offering both despair and hope (if you play the game to the end, you’ll see). There’s a cow in a field. Yes, a cow. You pet it on the nose. It’s a lovely moment. I’d use the word poignant if I hadn’t banned it from off the face of the earth. Stop laughing, damn you to blazes, I love that cow.

Here I will say, if you haven’t played the game, play it. No, you haven’t anything better to do. Play it. What follows is an extreme spoiler – do not read any further unless you have played the game to completion (and you will, by God).

The leaf and the cow are but interruptions to the loop upon which you continue, but there are two ‘final’ aberrations to the routine that bookmark the game’s landscape. Walk left instead of right when you leave the apartment, and you encounter a Homeless who tells you he can take you somewhere quiet. It’s a graveyard. You return to the bedroom with the alarm clock blinking. You are not dead.This is one end of the spectrum of what I’ll have to call the semantics of death that the game employs. The other end of this spectrum is to walk past your cubicle in the office and off to the right. You find yourself on the roof of the building. You jump and return to the bedroom with the alarm clock blinking. You are not dead.

When you have completed the five things, the game does not offer you any explicit epiphany, but it is deeply unsettling. You wake up to find that your wife is gone. The Elevator Lady has gone. There is no traffic in the road. Your boss and co-workers are gone. Everything that presented and re-presented itself to you has gone, and it is suddenly awfully empty. You walk to the roof. You watch yourself jump. You are not dead: you’re watching yourself jump. Part of you has died. You are a new man.

That’s my interpretation of it anyway, and now I’m done.

Oh, and the music’s pretty cool, too.

The Goonies: a postscript

March 11, 2010

Splice the mainsail and drop the anchor, Chunk, the pirate ship of your youth will sail no more. The asymmetrical fellow with the candy bar, who bore you on his shoulders like John the Baptist and carried you across the briny flood, is dead. The buccaneers are all dead and sunk into the saltwater. Mikey is dead. Data, that merry little fellow with his jangling mechanical equipage is, alas, dead. Mouth is dead (some say of mouth ulcers). Dead dead dead, all of them, and yet we mysteriously remain. The loathed survivors.

Two years later Chunk is a stripper in a low-rent gay strip-club who exists solely for the next hit. At ten past the hour from 7.10 till 3.10 he slithers into the spotlight and lifts the frayed folds of a greasy Hawaiian shirt to reveal a doughy tumescent abdomen, swelling into view like a vat of over-yeasty pizza dough. A few heads turn to regard the sad exhibition. “Get it Guys” cries the M.C.. “It’s ten past the hour. You know what time it is. Come on Guys! I don’t have to tell you. You know what time it is! It’s Truffle Shuffle Time!”. For five minutes (every hour) Chunk manipulates the loose cellulite betwixt his belt line and his ribs, emitting a curious warble from his fat cheeks like an underwater Mickey Rooney. The leering. The touching. The tutting.

At 3.20 Chunk shuffles, trufflessly, into the alley behind the club to where his grizzly junky peers maintain a limp vigil. Their eyes flash a muted greeting. One of them passes Chunk a spoon and a wrap. “Hey guys”, says Chunk, tapping up an artery in his forearm, “did I ever tell you about the time I met Janet Jackson…?”

D.A.R.Y.L.

March 9, 2010

Somewhere in the Freudian soup of my infancy I remember being exposed to the 1985 film, D.A.R.Y.L., about a robotic boy who lives with a regular human family until he is recaptured by his military creators (or something). There was something faintly traumatic about being exposed to that film, but I can’t really remember what. In a bid to regain a quantum of sanity I have penned the following poem about it.

Haply am I a teenage robot

Little blest with the gift of Man’s soft speech

But every telephone north of Mexico rings out

A plaintive Lawnmower Man-lilt

And the Apple Macs weep heavy pixels

And the routers crash with ennui.

For all the inorganic world

Cannot for the life of it work out

Why I,

D.A.R.Y.L., the acronymic adolescent android,

Cannot get laid.

_______

My human cousin, Duke, lent me a pornographic magazine.

And by the Cylon God I beat myself blind

And gave it back to Duke with a Man’s pride.

Am I not a man like you?

If you cut me do I not bleed?

If you consent to mate with me do I not ejaculate?

(Why do you not consent to mate with me?)

________

No, Mother.

I shan’t relent in my quest

For human pussy.

__________

Why can I not say these words Mother?

Cousin Duke says words like ‘pussy’ and ‘ejaculate’ and ‘ramrod’.

He is a teenage boy

And so am I

(Albeit with a cold android’s heart)

So why can I not?

_________

What is ‘inappropriate’?

How can I understand this word?

Why do you cry Mother?

_________

Sometimes I peep on Glenda the fallen housewife

As she heaves her ponderous mammaries

Across the formica table-tops

Of the kitchen next door.

How I long to grasp at

Those pendulous sweepers.

How I long to destroy humanity.

__________

But every telephone north of Mexico rings out

A plaintive Lawnmower Man-lilt

And the Apple Macs weep heavy pixels

And the routers crash with ennui

For all the inorganic world

Cannot for the life of it work out

Why I,

D.A.R.Y.L., the acronymic adolescent android,

Cannot get laid.

Funny Ha Ha

March 7, 2010

Has anyone noticed how no-one is talking about Mumblecore films anymore? You know: Funny Ha Ha, The Puffy Chair, Mutual Appreciation, Hannah Takes The Stairs, Brenda Eats a Pear. Never seen them? Neither have I. Life’s too short. Here’s a poem about the Melancholy King of the Mumblecorers, Andrew Bujalski:

________

Tiddlywinks and piddly-pants.

In the name of all that is inaudible about

This great nation

I shall play my tiddlywinks

And ply my piddly-pants picture

And I shan’t make eye contact

With any of you guys,

(Assholes)

What was that?

No, I didn’t say anything.

(Assholes).

_________

Guys, could we um thinkum

About what um my character would

Be saying hereum I meanum

I’m just trying to tell a story

About regular guys

Like you and me, guys.

Y’know. Umrelationshipsum.

Y’know, none of this Valentine’s Day Card

Umcrap.

So he kinda likes Mort but Mort’s

Into Bert, y’know.

And it’s about how a breakup can be

Sorta beautiful.

Y’know.

__________

Now dump me like you kind of mean it.

(Asshole)